Saturday, December 08, 2001

Artificial heart patient memorialized

By Bruce Schreiner
The Associated Press

        LOUISVILLE — Robert Tools was remembered Friday for his zest for life and his courage to become the first recipient of a fully self-contained artificial heart.

        A week after his death, Mr. Tools' surgeons wept at a memorial service. Mr. Tools' son remembered his father's humor and his priest spoke of a legacy that went beyond worldwide celebrity as a medical pioneer.

        “He has as another legacy a reminder that life on Earth is at best fragile, uncertain and passing, but is nonetheless a gift to be treasured and nurtured and to be experienced as fully as possible,” said the Rev. Dennis Holly, pastor at St. Mary of the Woods Catholic Church.

        Mr. Tools died Nov. 30 at Jewish Hospital of complications after severe abdominal bleeding.

        Expected to survive only days without the experimental implant, Mr. Tools lived for 151 days with the softball-sized AbioCor artificial heart quietly whirring in his chest. It was implanted July 2.

        “My father definitely won,” Carlin Tools said. “He got four more months and not only that, he gave inspiration to millions around the world.”

        Mr. Tools was cremated, and his remains were contained in a wooden box. Next to it, a large picture showed him holding an AbioCor heart in one hand and giving a thumbs-up sign.

        Before a final series of setbacks, his doctors were optimistic Mr. Tools might spend Christmas at home.

        Fighting back tears, Dr. Laman Gray Jr. said he was struck from his first meeting with Mr. Tools by his will to live.

        “He fought all the battles and he was the most courageous person I met,” Dr. Gray said.

        The AbioCor has been implanted in six patients as part of a clinical trial. The plastic-and-titanium device made by Abiomed Inc. of Danvers, Mass., has an internal battery and controller that are implanted with the heart and an external battery that passes electricity through the skin.

        Dr. Robert Dowling, who implanted the device in Mr. Tools along with Dr. Gray, said Mr. Tools not only fought to prolong his life but to give hope to others with heart disease.

        “He captured the hearts of a nation and a world,” he said. “I think it's safe to say we gave him a heart, but he stole our hearts.”


Accused molester out of hospital
Girl Scouts get bridge to pin their name on
UC budget may call for tuition hike
Roadwork complete on I-471
Funding denied for roadwork
Cash-strapped state to close Orient prison
County balks at Banks' financing plan
Fire chief hopes to hire planner
Guns, chemicals sought in Waagner car
Half pass 4th-grade reading
Israel trip emotional ride for area Jews
Tristate's Olympic torchbearers
Business wants school to move
DeWitt helps out Loveland
Local Digest
Obituary: Aldrich Kossuth Paul, led department at UC
Obituary: Lawrence Hoffman, former Enquirer employee
THOMPSON: Congregation home for Hanukkah
Banner symbolizes nonviolence
Building sites being plundered
Council members question pay raises
Fairfield may ease credits to graduate
Husband sought after shooting
McNUTT: Students plan gift collection
NKU arena isn't likely
Year-round school has foes
County attorney seeks re-election
Kentucky Digest
SAMPLES: Sidewalk ramp relief
- Artificial heart patient memorialized
Business interests gave $3.3M to candidates
Man faces 267 felony counts
Ticket surcharge proposed to lure NBA team